Mourning Wood (2010)

Description (from mourningwoodmovie.com):
The unveiling of Dr. Jacob Pendelton’s newest product, ShamPube, becomes a blistering catastrophe when it transforms the Slutton residents into “humping” zombies. Now, it’s up to an infomercial king, a used car salesman, four friends, and an array of peculiar townsfolk to join forces and stop the invasion. Prepare for the rise of Mourning Wood!

Major Cast:
Ed Gutierrez as Dr. Jacob Pendelton, Marc Guild as Derik Bronson, Erik Johnson as Marvin / Texas Jim, Zack Brown as Rick / Fluffy, Ryan Convery as Brian / Dennis Dousché, Nick Brown as Mr. Winters / Tom Gable, Ryan Clark as Rick Monster

Special Features:
Making Of, Trailer

Written and Directed by Ryan Convery

I kinda did this backwards.  I was first introduced to Fat Foot Films with Ryan Convery’s 2nd feature, JOY AND THE APOCALYPSE (review here).  In doing a little research into that film I heard about Convert’s first feature, MOURNING WOOD, and it sounded like it would be right up my alley.  It’s amazing the differences between these two movies; I really wish I had seen them in the opposite order.  Oh well.

MW is one of the most absurd zombie movies I have ever seen; and that is saying a lot as I have seen a shit-ton of zombie movies!  Zombie movies fall into a variety of categories, but one of the ways to segregate them is the genesis of the zombies.  In some flicks you pick up in the middle of the zombie outbreak, and you may or may not ever find out what caused the zombies; in others you come into the story in the beginning of the outbreak and almost always find out the reason.  MW starts on the day the outbreak occurred, Wednesday… hump day.  In this particular zombie film the cause is a mad-infomercial-scientist and his newest invention, “ShamPube,” and the zombies are passing the sickness via… well… white goo.  Let’s just leave it at that.

MW is most certainly a comedy with some gore; there is nothing scary about it at all.  The story is of some stoner friends who are getting together to make a short film on the day that the outbreak occurs.  They become aware of the situation when one of the “humpers” defiles Brian’s car, and things go downhill from there.  Eventually we have zombies and guns and gore, oh my!

MW reminded me of the films of Troma or Low Budget Pictures; it was gleefully offensive and cheerfully gory.  MW does not take itself seriously; it knows it exists just to have fun.  There are campy bits throughout, from the chin prosthetics to the exaggerated guns, and MW embraces its budget.  This is important: one of the things that will make a low-budget film into a bad film most quickly is trying to do too much with too little.  MW does a lot, but it realizes its limitations and plays in that sandbox without trying to overdo it.

On the technical side of things, MW is very obviously a labor of love… that means that there was not much money to be found in this budget.  The production values are pretty low overall, the lighting is passable but not good, the video quality is firmly in the home-video range, and the acting is – with the exception of Ed Gutierrez – very much in the “your friends and neighbors” realm.  Gutierrez, also one of my favorites in JaTA, was a cut above the rest of the acting in the film; he still keeps it campy and silly, but does so with a little more gravitas than the rest of the cast (yes, I just wrote “gravitas” in a review about humping zombies).  On the positive side, the sound quality is a cut above for this type of film, and the effects (both physical and digital) are solid.  Plus: claymation.  Real, not CGi, claymation.  I love claymation, no one really uses it much anymore, and it was awesome to see it used in such a low-budget affair; the use of claymation for the opening credits drew me in and made me feel right away that while MW is not big-budget fare, someone took some major time and effort to make it a cut above most films at this budget level.

MW would have benefited from a tighter script.  The movie drags in places, gets a bit confusing in its logic, and the end is quite abrupt – almost as if they ran out of ideas and had to figure out a way to wrap it up.  Also, more pre-production would have helped to tighten up some of these bits and may have helped cut down on the extremely lengthy production time (four years).  I definitely commend the filmmakers for not giving up on a four-year production; that is about as long as my film DEFECTIVE MAN! took to go from script to screen, and I know from that personal experience that it is really easy to get discouraged when it takes that long to make.  Bravo, gentlemen, for getting it done.

Overall, I really enjoyed MW.  Is it a dark, scary zombie movie full of political satire and gruesome gore?  No, not at all.  Does every zombie movie need to be?  No, not at all.  MW was a fun romp through the zombie genre that flips some conventions on their heads and pokes them in the eye.  The film is obviously for fans of the low-budget, offensive campy comedy genre; as my wife put it “this is a boy film” with its farting, bodily fluids, gore, language, and cheesy jokes.  If you like this sort of thing, if you are a fan of MULVA: ZOMBIE ASS KICKER or CITIZEN TOXIE, you will enjoy MW.  If you are looking for that smart social satire wrapped in rotting flesh, look to DAWN OF THE DEAD or elsewhere, because MW just came to party.

Overall 7.5 / 10

MW on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1781864/

MW for sale: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=acxSMG5btOHmla4wHE3JarRBYrBIg3Jogz485QVetPt0zd_B3BdREsSJv3m&dispatch=50a222a57771920b6a3d7b606239e4d529b525e0b7e69bf0224adecfb0124e9b61f737ba21b081988562bf19d61623c6f33db8e87506be10

MW site: http://www.mourningwoodmovie.com

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